Are your multi-vitamins making you fat? Probably not. Are they really benefiting your health? Probably not.
If you’re an active, healthy (non-pregnant or not planning to be pregnant) woman who is eating her fruits and veggies you shouldn’t need vitamins. Researchers are conflicted as to whether or not we can absorb nutrients in supplement form as well as we can from food, but we do know that vitamins do not contain a lot of the beneficial compounds that nutrient-rich food does, such as antioxidants, fiber, good bacteria, and fat needed to absorb said vitamins. Vitamins are also not regulated by the FDA and, therefore, one cannot be exactly sure what your vitamins contains, but they likely contain extraneous materials such as fillers. Vitamins often contain megadoses of water-soluble vitamins that end up going down the drain (or toilet rather) in our urine. Vitamins can be damaging to people with liver or kidney problems, cause vomiting if taken on an empty stomach, and constipation. All this aside, if most of your meals come from a fast food line, best take your vitameatavegamin.
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I would recommend continuing to supplement with emulsified vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) drops [you need about 600 International Units (IU)], which contain fat and are likely most readily absorbed into the body. You may also take cholecalciferol in pill form with a meal that contains fat and preferable magnesium. Magnesium helps your body absorb vitamin D, so try to incorporate spinach, beans, nuts, and whole grains when you take your supplement. Losing weight will also help increase your blood levels of vitamin D, as fat cells actually pull vitamin D out of your blood for storage.
Vitamin D and calcium work hand in hand in the body. Increasing your blood levels of vitamin D will help your body absorb more calcium. If you are inclined to take a calcium supplement, try calcium citrate or calcium carbonate. The ability of our bodies to absorb these nutrients is relatively equitable, but calcium carbonate is less expensive, but more likely to cause gas and digestive issues. Calcium carbonate is also available in over the counter antacids, like Tums and Rolaids, but you would have to take about 6 per day to meet the recommended level of 2,500 mg. More is not better in the case of calcium. Exceeding the recommended daily intake can result in kidney problems and even irregular heartbeat (a very not good thing).
We have an excellent resource right here in Rockport and her name is Kimmi Moake, NTP. (Full disclosure: Kimmi is a close friend of mine, but I would recommend her anyway because she KNOWS her stuff.) If you want the highest quality and best variety of supplements provided by a gal who vets her suppliers and knows how to help, Kimmi's Fine Foods should be your next stop.
Certain medications can affect the absorption of these supplements, so consult your physician and pharmacist.
Losing the weight with a diet filled with nutritious foods is the ideal choice. Check back next week when I'll be sharing my recipe for a "Bacon and Spinach Frittata" to get you started!
With you in the highs and lows,
Kayla Butts MS, RD, LD
Kayla Butts is a dietitian, farmer, and mom living on a 25-acre homestead with her husband and daughters in Rockport, Texas. Look for Kayla's recipes in The Bend Magazine, or at her blog: www.lightheartednutrition.wordpress.com